ST. LOUIS -- Regular-season champion Creighton claimed two specialty awards - Most Valuable Pitcher and Coaching Staff of the Year - while third-seed Illinois State claimed Most Valuable Player at the annual softball banquet, Wednesday evening in Omaha, Nebraska. Indiana State and fourth-seed UNI took the Co-Newcomers of the Year award.
Creighton's Becca Changstrom was honored as the Missouri Valley Conference Most Valuable Pitcher and Illinois State's Elizabeth Kay earned Most Valuable Player. Indiana State junior Morgan Allee and Caitlin Wnek of UNI were tabbed as Co-Newcomers of the Year and Creighton's coaching staff of Brent Vigness, Abby Johnson and Renae Sinkler were named the staff of the year.
Becca Changstrom had 247 strikeouts this season, putting her 18th in the NCAA and her seven shutouts made her 19th. She ranks 22nd in strikeouts per seven innings, 30th in victories (with 22), 45th in ERA and 46th in hits allowed per seven innings. This pitching ace had one, one-hit game and 12 double-digit strikeout performances. Changstrom earned MVC Pitcher of the Week honors four times this season. She leads the Valley in ERA (1.72) and has limited opponents to a .193 batting average. Becca is the fifth Creighton athlete to earn this honor.
Thought of as the heart and soul of her team, Elizabeth Kay's batting average of .418 ranks her 38th in the NCAA and first in the Valley. During her 2013 campaign, she had an on base percentage of .534 (19th in the NCAA) and a .695 slugging percentage (90th in NCAA). Her outstanding performances week in and week out led her to earn the MVC Player of the Week award four times this year. This is the eight time a Redbird has won the Most Valuable Player award.
This year we had two newcomers who made an immediate impact for their team as soon as they stepped onto the field. Allee was every catcher's nightmare as she stole 36 bases this year. She had a .335 batting average with 36 runs and 20 runs batted in. Caitlin Wnek is tied for first in the Valley in doubles and is ranked 53rd in NCAA Division I Softball in the toughest to strike out category. Wnek led the Panthers in hits, doubles and total bases. Allee is the first Sycamore to earn this award while Wnek is the fourth Panther.
Brent Vigness and his coaching staff led their team to a 29-17 overall record and a 15-7 mark in the MVC. They are the tournament’s first seed and are claiming its third coaching staff award for their school.
League awards are voted on by the head softball coaches.